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Department of Genetics


Lucy Woolhouse, Department Librarian

What is your current role?

I’m the department’s librarian. People can often have misconceptions around librarianship – that it’s just stamping books or sitting at a desk – but it’s so much more than that. My main job is essentially to help you with whatever you need, whether that’s a specific book, or access to a journal article, or how to make your paper available openly and manage your research data. I also teach academic and research skills classes for both the department and the wider School and am the research support lead for my library colleagues in the Biological Sciences Libraries Team. And I look after the online reading lists for the Part II papers. My job is very varied, which is why I love it!

When did you start with the department?

I started in January 2022, so I’ve been here just over a year. Before that I managed the student library at Queens’ College for 5 years, so I’ve been around in Cambridge for a while! Moving from a college to a department was a bit of a culture shock, but everyone’s been so friendly that I’ve settled right in (though I do miss the free lunches!).

How did you get started as a librarian?

I was never really sure what I wanted to do once I graduated, but I’d always been a bookish child and had grown up around libraries and reading, so when I visited the British Library for the first time to research my UG dissertation something just clicked. I realised people actually worked in these places, and I could too! It took me a little while to get some experience, but after volunteering in Nottingham and my first ‘proper’ part-time library job in Birmingham, I managed to get a full-time job as a Graduate Trainee Librarian at Christ’s College. During that year I fell in love with Cambridge, and even after going away to Sheffield to get my Master’s in Librarianship, I ended up back here eventually.

How did you get interested in Genetics?

I come from an arts background, but I was always fascinated by genetics at school. I’m looking forward to learning lots more about what goes on in the department through the newly reinstated Support Staff Seminars.

What are you currently working on?

As I said, my job is very varied, so I’m usually working on quite a lot of different things at once! At the moment this includes:

  • Facilitating the next Department Open Research briefing on Research Integrity
  • Preparing to teach a session on reference management tools and copyright for the BBSRC DTP
  • Expanding the library’s modern collections, particularly those on professional skills and the EDIW Collection (please let me know if there’s something you’d like me to buy!)
  • Working with other support staff to improve the department’s equality, diversity and wellbeing webpages
  • Preparing to be part of a conference panel about inclusive library collections
  • Scheduling my sessions for next term’s Biological Sciences Research Skills Series
  • Participating in a Teaching and Learning For Librarians course to improve my teaching skills

What was a defining moment in your career thus far?

Getting this job! My library team is amazing and everyone in the department is so welcoming and open to having the library be an active part of department life, which is very rewarding. I’m also learning lots of new skills and getting back into science, which is great!

What are your future goals?

In the long term, to run my own (bigger) library. But in the short term, I just want to make sure the library is a place everyone feels comfortable and that everyone knows I’m here for any support you might need – no question is too small!

Fun fact

I sing barbershop music, which is a type of 4-part a cappella harmony. I’ve been doing it since I was 14, and have competed both nationally and internationally, including Canada and Texas! My current chorus is based in Cambridge.

What is the one library you want to visit on your bucket list?

The Library of Congress in Washington DC, and the Bibliothèque Nationale  in Paris.